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South Florida 2015 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – South Florida 
Conference – American Athletic Conference
Coach – George Kiefer (14th Season)
Background – South Florida was 10-7-3 in 2014 with a 4-3-1 mark in conference play. They advanced to the championship game of the American Athletic Conference where their season came to an end when they came out on the short end of a penalty kick shootout with Tulsa. The Bulls have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament eight out of the past nine seasons and advanced to the Elite Eight in 2008 and 2011. South Florida won the Big East Red Division Title in 2005 and 2011, the Big East Tournament Title in 2008, and the American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship in 2013. Midfielders Lucas Baldin and Lindo Mfeka, defender Wesley Charpie, and goalkeeper Spasoje Stefanovic were 2014 First-Team All-American Athletic Conference selections. Forward Edwin Moalosi was a 2014 Second-Team All-American Athletic Conference selecton and midfielder Eduardo Maceira was named to the All-Rookie Team. 
Offense – South Florida will lose their top two goals scorers from the 2014 team, forward Edwin Moalosi (5g, 9a and midfielder Lucus Baldin (5g, 9a), due to graduation. Junior Marcus Epps (3g, 2a) who started twenty contests last year and senior Terry Delancy (0g, 1a) who appeared in nineteen games in 2014 are among returning forwards who will likely figure prominently in the offense in 2015. Newcomers up-top include Junior Nazeem Bartman who was the NSCAA 2014 Division I Junior College Player of the Year at Tyler Junior College, junior Kendan Anderson who was an NJCAA First Team All-American in 2013, and junior Melvin Becket who was a NJCAA First Team All-American in 2014. All three are proven goal scorers but the question remains can they make a successful transition to the Division I level.  Kiefer no doubt seeks to replicate the success the Bulls enjoyed in 2011 when forward Dom Dwyer who was the NJCAA National Player of the Year at Tyler Junior College transferred in and ignited the South Florida atttack with a total of sixteen goals. Junior outside midfielder Lindo Mfeka (4g, 5a) and sophomore outside midfielder Eduardo Maceira (5g, 2a) return to add punch and balance to the attack. Both have the speed and touch on the ball needed to create problems for opposing defenders. Junior center midfielders Duane Muckette and Graham Smith also return to provide stability and experience in the center of the park. Junior midfielder Michael Bajsa, who transfers in from North Carolina State, is among the newcomers who should contribute immediately to the attack in the midfield.   
Defense – Reloading Required. The Bulls will be without the sevices of starting backs Wesley Charpie (0g, 6a), and Nikola Paunic (1g, 0a) due to graduation as well and Matthew O'Neal (1g, 0a). Senior center back Brandon Riley and sophomore outside back Gabriel Pfeffer (2g, 0a) are among returning backs who are likely to be in a starting role in 2015. Both appeared in thirteen contests with six starts in 2014. Junior transfers Brendan Hines-Ike from Creighton, Liam McNally from Tyler Junior College and Brandon Kolczynski from Pittsburgh are solid additions with experience who should hit the ground running. Hines started forty-three games at center back for the Bluejays where he was named to the Missouri Valley All-Freshman Team in 2012 and was an All-Big East Second Team selection in 2013. McNally was a Second Team NJCAA All-American at Tyler College. Freshman Prosper Figbe out of the Loomis Chaffee School and the Black Rock FC should also compete for playing time in the back. Junior Spasoje Stefanovic who was the starter last year returns in goal to anchor the defense. Stefanovic had a 1.00 goals against average last year with six clean sheets.  

Newcomers – Five Star Recruiting Class 

Coach Kiefer stated, "One of the things that I am pleased about is that we've been able to sign some really good local players. When you look at the class as a whole there are some really good guys that have really impressive resumes coming in and they're also good people and good students."

Kendan Anderson – Forward – Kingston, Jamacia – St. George's College – ASA College – Junior transfer. NSCAA First-Team All-American in 2013 at ASA College. Member of the U-20 Jamaican National Team.

Michael Bajza – Midfielder – Tampa, Florida – Shattuck-St. Mary's – Junior transfer from N.C. State where he played in 34 games over the past two seasons.

Nazeem Bartman – Forward – Cape Town, South Africa – Junior transfer from Tyler Junior College where he was an NJCAA First-Team All-American. Netted 34 career goals and 19 assists.

Melvin Becket – Forward – Sunshine, Australia – Lewis and Clark Community College – Junior transfer from Lewis and Clark. NJCAA Junior College First Team All-American in 2014. Member of the U-17 Australian Youth National Team.

Brendan Hines-Ike – Defender – Denver, Colorado – Junior transfer from Creighton where he started 43 games.  All-Big East Second Team selection. Played for Chivas USA U-18 Academy. Missouri Valley All-Freshman Team in 2012. 

Brandon Kolczynski – Defender – Farmingdale, New Jersey – Howell HIgh School – Junior transfer from Pittsburgh where he played in 24 games starting 17 over the past two seasons. Played for NJSA 04 Development Academy. 

Chandler Maynes – Defender – Winter Springs, Florida – Played club soccer for Orlando City and Real Salt Lake.

Liam McNally –  Defender – Kenilworth, England – Tyler Junior College – Junior transfer from Tyler Junior College. Second Team NJCAA All-American. 

Philipp Stone – Goalkeeper – Apopka, Florida – Played for Orlando City's PDL team. Super Y Nationals MVP in 2011. Played for Orlando City U-18 USSDA Team. 

Prosper Figbe – Defender – Ilorin Kwara State – Loomis Chaffee – 2014 NSCAA All-State Team. Played for Connecticut Football Club. Played for Black Rock FC.   

Prognosis for 2015 – The Bulls hope to make up for the offensive productivity that has departed as a result of the graduation of Edwin Moalosi and Lucas Baldwin by the additon of transfers Nazeem Bartman, Kendan Anderson, and Melvin Becket up-top and midfielder Michael Bajza. The newcomers clearly have the potential to boost South Florida's offensive productivity. Junior forward Marcus Epps who was a starter last year is among returning players who will also be counted on for offensive firepower. Last year the Bulls found the back of the net a total of thirty-two times but that figure is a little misleading since South Florida only produced a total of eight goals in the last eight games of the season with four of them coming in a win over Memphis. The midfield shoud be solid with the return of junior Lindo Mfeka who was a 2014 First Team All-America East Conference selection and sophomore Eduardo Maceira who now has the benefit of a year's starting experience under his belt. Juniors Duane Muckette and Graham Smith are solid role players who are very capable holding midfielders. The addition of junior transfer Michael Bajza could prove to be a huge addition in the midfied.  He may prove to be just what the Bulls need in terms of filling the void that exists due to the loss of Baldwin. The backline clearly requires some rebuilding with three starters departing and could be problematic in the early going.  That is a troubling number of starters to replace at a position where experience and organization is important. However returning center back Brandon Riley and outside back Gabriel Pfeffer provide a solid foundation upon which to build and the the addition of experienced junior transfers like Brendan Hines Ike and Liam McNally should ease the transition. The return of junior Spasoje Stefanovic in goal is a big plus and should help to stabilize the defense. Stefanovic will be the first netminder to start consecutive seasons at South Florida since Jeff Attinella in 2009 and 2010. Kiefer will welcome to Tampa what looks to be one of the strongest recruiting classes in the country. The Bulls will try to reload on the fly by bringing in several transfers who already have collegiate experience. Team chemistry is always a potenital issue in such situations. Kiefer's ability to effectively merge the newcomers in with returning players, the ability of the offense to avoid the drop off in productivity experienced down the home stretch last year, and rebuilding the backline look to be key challenges facing South Florida heading into the 2015 season.  If those issues are resolved in the affirmative then this is a team that should win a lot of games in 2015 and return to the NCAA Tournament field after being absent last year.  


Posted in 2015 Team Reviews

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